What’s been going on?

October 8, 2009

Dear IGDA Members,

Over the last few weeks, I hope you have noticed a concerted effort to reduce the number of emails coming from IGDA to your email inbox.  I know it seemed like we were sending something out every day, and a few folks voiced complaints about it.

Let me begin by saying the reason for the large amount of email output was threefold: A. We had a number of issues surrounding the special election, Board changes, and decisions that had to get out to the membership to remain within the structure for notifications in the bylaws.  B. When I arrived at the end of June, one of the things that a number of the people whom I spoke with, and which I also saw on the forums and such was a desire for more transparency on what is going on with and at the IGDA.  Finally, C. Since I have arrived, we’ve been instituting a number of new programs and changes to existing ones that were important to bring to your attention BEFORE they went live.  In fact, we’ve had one big project happening each month since that time and likely to continue into the near future.

That said, I hate coming to my inbox and finding a lot of email as much as the next person.  So, in hearing that people felt the pendulum had swung too far in the notification direction, we’ve cut back intentionally.  I hope that you have seen this.  As part of my efforts to keep the quantity of email light, but the quality of information high (signal to noise ratio as is commonly used) I will be sending out semi-regularly emails like this one, which have a large amount of content for you to read and be aware of.

I also will continue to post to my Blog as often as possible, and we will be using twitter and our Facebook account more to allow people to opt in to our messaging. So, there will be a lot of info forthcoming on various items, but I need you to do your part if you want to stay in the loop and actually read these various areas where the content will be.

In this email we will be talking about:
– The New Website
– The Leadership Forum
– The Webinar Series
– Unemployed Members Dues Rate

The new website:

According to the legends I have heard from before my arrival, this website has been in the making for about 4 years.  While not getting into the details of these legends, I am also aware that it seemed like the new site was just over the horizon for a long time.  Having worked for a web developer in a previous life, I understand how sometimes these expectations can lead us to set launch dates that don’t end up working out.  That said, we set a launch date in Sept. of Oct. 19th. At the moment we are still on track to hit that date and go live.

“DO WHAT!!??!!”

Yes, we plan on launching the new website that Jason and Tim and now Mark and Tobi have been spearheading for some time.  Let me share some details for those of you who may not have heard from your SIG or Chapter leaders already.

The new website has a front end based on Drupal, and a Back End that runs via CiviCRM.  Naturally the back end piece is more for the operations of the association, but it also runs the group security aspects of the site.

The new website has some interesting tools and new functions and features that you should find useful.  Specifically the ability for each logged in user to be able to customize some of the display aspects so that you can filter in the content you are regularly accessing more easily.  We’ll also have polling abilities, and elections capacity, and some other new toys that I’ll be creating a tutorial to use with Joseph Sapp who has been our webherd for the duration of this project.

For many of you, the change will be mainly in a little more easily accessed content and some new opportunities to use the site.  But for the SIG & Chapter Leaders and Staff, there is a great deal of added capabilities that we will have.  As the previous site did not actually have an effective content management system, and the pages were being done manually by Joseph Sapp.  There will also be a new member’s only content areas, where various benefits will begin to be placed that are for IGDA members specifically. An example will be the webinar recordings and sign up areas, but that’s the start of what will likely grow to a strong reason to be a member of the IGDA.  This area is the direct result of input from the membership survey in Sept. where the majority of you indicated there should be some member’s only features and programs.

In addition, many of the database tools were not readily adjustable, and the new CiviCRM piece should allow us a great deal more capability, and the ability to reduce expenses associated with processing and maintaining the 12,000 member records we have on file.

Naturally, there will be hiccups.  I don’t know what these will be (if I did I would fix them so they never happened) but we’ll address any challenges as they appear.  I hope you will be kind to the staff and volunteers as we make this migration happen.  As I have said in other communications this project too is an evolution, and even once it’s launched we will continue to grow the website in various directions to offer more capabilities and ease of use.

I have been counseled by some folks that the new website does not have the visual design impact that we, as the IGDA should have.  I accept that and agree.  That said, I think it is important to continue to move forward with the changes that have been accomplished with the new site, and adjust the visual design elements once the site is up and stable.  To that end, if there are any volunteers who would like to be part of the visual design elements of the website, especially those with artistic talent or Drupal experience, please let myself or Joseph Sapp or Mark D. know so that when we are ready to move forward in that area, we know whom to turn to.

I am excited about getting this site up and running.  There is a great deal of effort that has gone into this project, and Jason and Tim should really be given a hearty thank you for their time on this project.  While we will continue to evolve this application to our needs, the foundation is strong and they are largely responsible for it getting to where it is.

Many of you may be wondering about the current website, the content, the wiki, the forums, etc. We will be maintaining the original site as is, and have an archival link to it.  The purpose here is to allow for any content that was missed during the migration to be gathered and moved over after the official launch, and also to maintain the original site as a back up in the event that some point of failure prevents the anticipated launch.  (Again, I don’t expect this, or I would have fixed it, but as game developers, I am sure you all understand that sometimes things happen beyond our control.)  The wiki will remain as is for the immediate future.  We have received a great deal of positive feedback on the wiki, and I prefer not to tamper with a “good thing” when I have one.  We will also be looking at moving the forum content over, but that is a stage 2 endeavor.  For the time being our main focus is getting up some new member’s only forums as well as public ones.  Finally, the SIGs and Chapters have been given some heads up warning that this change is coming, and some options for keeping or moving their content over.

Again, this launch is officially scheduled for Oct. 19th, with a soft target of Oct. 16th.  Your positive thoughts and gentle indications when you find any errors will go a long way towards making this a great experience for everyone.

The Leadership Forum:

In the event that you may not know, we are running an IGDA Leadership forum: http://www.igda.org/leadership/

Times are tight for everyone these days, and that has made many associations cancel or limit their meetings.  The IGDA suggests that because of the fact that the economy is down, this is the perfect time for you and your team to attend the IGDA Leadership Forum.  Get away from the gamer events, and come and spend 2 days with professionals just like yourself, who are facing the same problems.  Sure none of us can talk about the projects we are working on, but we CAN talk about the problems we’re facing and share ideas and solutions to challenges we’ve been dealing with.

The IGDA has offered a number of discount codes, if you don’t have one, contact your favorite Board member and get theirs.  We are firmly behind the notion that the more game developers we can bring together in a meaningful discussion, the better an event we will have.  Thus the promotional codes are extended, and we are actively encouraging you to come, and listen to some high powered speakers who have been in the trenches alongside you.  Ask them the hard questions and see if they have some solutions that might not have occurred to you yet. Then talk to other folks who might be able to offer you some thoughts and resources to look at later on when you’re working in the middle of the night and you just need a little help.

We’ve got over 100 folks attending already, and we are expecting 200 or so.  A small, high powered meeting, with plenty of time built in to network, so you don’t need to stand in the hall during a session to chat with people about the issues you’re facing.

Register on-line with your promo code: http://www.igda.org/leadership/registration/

SCRUM Certification:

In conjunction with our leadership forum, we are partnering with Clinton Keith on offering a SCRUM Master Certification course.  If you’ve used Agile or your team needs a little more effective means of being efficient to prevent crunch or reworking projects, this is an awesome opportunity to send one or two folks and then bring the program back and get the whole team up to speed.  Information on the course is here: http://www.agilegamedevelopment.com/CKC/CSM4VG_Brochure.pdf

We’ve limited the seating to 35 participants, and we are selling out, so please register now to reserve your seat.  If you attend both the certification and the Leadership forum, we’re offering you 10% off both in addition to your discount code for the Leadership Forum.

Register Here:  http://www.igda.org/leadership/registration/

IGDA Members Only Webinar:

One of the things that came out of the member satisfaction survey was the desire to see more practical benefits for your membership dues.  To that end, we have begun a year round series of webinars for IGDA members only.  Instead of asking you to always come to the conference, we’re bringing some of the conference materials to you.

Our first webinar was on the fundamentals of SCRUM, Lean and Agile with Clinton Keith, and we had over 200 folks register for the event and over 150 stay for the full hour and a half.  We’ve recorded the session, and the recording should go live for everyone to see as early as today.

We are lining up speakers in all topic areas now for the next 6 months, and my goal is to bring you a new webinar every 2-3 weeks.  If we have more content than that, we’ll ramp up the number of presentations, but to start I’d like to space it out as we all (members, presenters and staff) get comfortable with the concept, the expectations and the technology.

Our next Scheduled Webinar will be Tom Buscaglia, The Game Attorney, presenting: Indie Gold: Downloadable Content Models for Core Casual Games.  Which will take place at 12:00 noon eastern/9am Pacific on Oct. 27th.  Of course if you know Tom, you know you need to attend this webinar, because NO ONE knows what he might say!

A separate invitation to register for the webinar will follow, as will a full schedule of the webinars lined up for the rest of the year.

REQUEST:  If you, yes you, IGDA member reading this, know of someone who has an interesting topic and wants to speak via webinar to the group, please email me joshua@igda.org, and we’ll get you on the schedule.  Highly specific and technical presentations are welcome.  This is the perfect format for a session that might only appeal to 20 people, because we can fit you in and get you in front of the 20 people who will care about what you have to say.  All disciplines are welcome!  We have members in almost every area related to Game Development, so whether your topic is visual, code, business, or humanity related, let us put you in front of the people.  We want to build content for our members, and this is a wonderful way to be able to accommodate that.  (We are also looking for presentations in languages besides English, specifically Japanese, French, Spanish and German.  Let us know if you have that type of capacity and interest in presenting at a time convenient to a chapter across the globe.)

Chapters: If you are having some trouble getting speakers for your local chapter meetings, we can use this technology to find you a great speaker that you can project up for your group.

Unemployed Member Dues Rate:

This also has been announced before, but I think it is important enough to make note of again.  The Board of Directors of the IGDA understands that many of our members may currently be between assignments, and when the dues renewal comes at such a time, it becomes a question of personal resources.  In order to attempt to support these efforts, the Board has approved an Unemployed renewal rate of $25 for any member whose dues renewal comes up at a time when they are between jobs.  This is an honor system program, and is done with the intention of supporting our members who want to stay involved in the IGDA, yet may be concerned about their own finances.

We have a number of new initiatives coming as well.  We are looking into a career center, some insurance opportunities, lifetime membership, and more.  As these come closer to launch, I’ll be filling you in.



Joshua Caulfield
Executive Director